This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Monday, December 21, 2015
WANTED: PRESIDENTIAL PARDON FOR 54 CONVICTED SOLDIERS
21st December 2015,
WANTED: PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
FOR 54 CONVICTED SOLDIERS
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major
General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, recently commuted the death sentence passed on 66
soldiers to ten years imprisonment each. The soldiers were accused of mutiny
and sentenced to death on 17th December, 2014.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby
commends the COAS for reviewing the case of the soldiers. By this development,
the COAS has demonstrated an enviable leadership quality and shown Nigerians
that he is ready to listen to complaints and make adjustments where necessary. The
COAS and the entire Nigerian Army also deserve accolades for putting Boko Haram
on the run after being at the receiving end for a long period under the last
However, we deem it necessary to further
advance the cause of the 66 soldiers. We still believe very strongly that they
do not deserve additional punishment for two good reasons. Firstly, these
soldiers asked to be better equipped before being sent to face insurgents who
were better armed. This is only reasonable as dead soldiers cannot protect
Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
Secondly, the soldiers have received
enough punishment already having been in custody for the past eight months. It
is noteworthy that they had allegedly fed themselves during the period.
The case of 54 soldiers out of the 66 is
even different because it appears that both the army and the press have lumped
them together. It is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff and put
issues in their proper context.
12 soldiers were actually involved in
the alleged attempt on the life of their commander while the remaining 54 were
those who asked to be properly armed before advancing on the enemy. It was not their
first time of engaging the insurgents because they had earlier advanced with
their battalion on 9th July, 2014 under Lt. Col K. C. Uwa to
recapture Damboa where Boko Haram insurgents had earlier dislodged 195
Battalion. Unfortunately they were ambushed by the terrorists and they lost 23
men and four officers due to inadequate equipment.
Again on 4th August they were
asked to advance towards the same Damboa, Deluwa and Bullabilin without any
improvement in armament. They had no single armoured car.
They therefore asked for equipments from
their commander, Lt. Col. Oporum. They were rounded up for daring to demand
arms before engaging a better equipped foe.
The case of the 54 soldiers is therefore
another cup of tea and we want Nigerians to understand it so. It is totally
different from the 12 soldiers who were later apprehended allegedly for
attempting to kill an army general.
The 54 soldiers did not mutiny. They merely
asked for weapons. They begged not to be sent on suicide mission fighting
hardened terrorists with their bare hands. They were the first group in year
2014 who demanded equipment. They did not open fire on anybody. They are
different from those 12 who allegedly opened fire on an army general.
By demanding equipments, the 54 soldiers
exposed the monumental corruption which was going on under former President Goodluck
Jonathan. In fact, they laid the foundation for the current probes on arms
fund. Should we therefore kill the goose that lay the golden eggs?
MURIC appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari
as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to grant the soldiers
presidential pardon. We are begging Mr. President as the father of all to set
these soldiers free and reinstate them. Just as Mr. President has been resolute
and hard on corrupt officials, we urge him to be rewarding and lenient on diligent
workers, patriotic citizens and gallant soldiers.
Nigerians have spoken with one voice.
Various groups are demanding leniency for the 66 soldiers. No single group has
blamed them since revelations of corrupt enrichment from the arms fund have
started. On the contrary, Nigerians pity these poor soldiers who are being made
to pay for the greed and avarice of political gluttons.
MURIC therefore invites President Buhari to
grace the scenario like ‘a Daniel come to justice’. Release our heroes from
detention. Their freedom will boost the morale of other soldiers who are on the
battle field. It will assure them that they have a listening
Commander-in-Chief. This will be the real justice, the real change which we all
In conclusion, we aver that freedom for
the 66 soldiers will mean the psychological defeat of Boko Haram as well as a
morale booster for Nigerian soldiers fighting insurgents. We must not allow Boko
Haram insurgents to rejoice as we kill and punish our soldiers with our own
hands. Moreover, Nigerians will see freedom for the 66 soldiers as another
victory in the current war against corruption.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)